There are several different reasons why you might want to soundproof a room within the home or in a commercial office. Obviously if the soundproofing is required within a commercial office, there are several professional methods of soundproofing the office that can be implemented. However, this webpage will be devoted to the soundproofing of a residential bedroom, closet or small office, without the benefits of a corporate check book, or the professional methods used by specialized sound engineers and contractors that specialize in this type of work.
What can I do at home to soundproof my personal private area?
1.) Sound is transmitted most easily and efficiently through the air. The sealing of all obvious air gaps, spaces, openings to the other parts of the home must be performed. Survey the perimeter of the room and identify all open areas as well as cracks, opening between ceiling panels, etc. that are visually obvious.
2.) The bottom of doors, as well as the entire perimeter the doors in the room, will allow sound to travel through. Purchase an inexpensive weather stripping kit used to seal exterior doors from the cold exterior air. Weather stripping kits are the most economical method of sealing your interior doors from sound transmission from the rest of the home. It is important that weather stripping is installed on all four sides of the door. Do not be afraid of sealing any door that you do not use to enter the room, very securely. If aesthetics is not a concern, duct taping the door perimeter will reduce any sound transmission. If the door is not required for the proper function of the room, or as a means of emergency exit, the door should be eliminated.
3.) The windows of the room are also transmitting sound from the exterior into the room. There are several different techniques that can be used to reduce this noise. The easiest method is to hang heavy drapes over the windows. These drapes should hang as close to the actual windows as possible, to seal as much of the perimeter as possible. Another good application is the installation of insulation panels, which are constructed by simply cutting out rigid insulation that can be purchased in full 4 by 8 foot panels at the local hardware or builder’s supply store.
4.) Sound can be absorbed by specialized sound panels installed on the interior surfaces of the room’s walls. These acoustic panels can be homemade and simply hung on the walls. If rigid insulation panels are used, they should be adhered to the walls and can be used as tack boards or bulletin boards for your work. The more wall surface that is covered; the less noise will be transmitted and reflected within the room itself.
5.) The floor should not be a hard surface. The installation of carpet will reduce the noise within the room and will diminish the reverberation of sound waves within the room. It is important that the floor be insulated from noise from any environment below the room. If there is noise being transmitted from an area below the room, the installation of rigid insulation on the floor and plywood panels over the top will substantially reduce this noise. Remember to tape all joints with duct tape to prevent an open air space.
6.) The ceiling is always a source of noise transmission. The normal home is not sealed above the ceiling between rooms. This open area is a common noise transmitter and will allow the noise from the home to transmit directly into the room. If there is any ability to access this space above the common walls of the room that is adjacent to the other spaces within the home, these open areas should be sealed. The installation of sheetrock with fiberglass insulation should be performed. I would recommend that openings be cut in the perimeter walls to allow the installation of perimeter insulation to reduce the noise transmission between the areas. This area above the perimeter walls is a principle source of sound from other portions of the home, and although it is more difficult and labor intensive, the sealing of the perimeter is recommended.
7.) If the area above the ceiling is accessible, then the installation of fiberglass insulation, as thick as can be fitted into the space above the ceiling is recommended, over the entire ceiling. Again, noise is transmitted through the open air. Seal the entire perimeter of the room with duct tape to stop any air gaps from occurring. The more insulation that can be installed over the entire ceiling the more the noise reduction within the room.
8.) All hard surfaces will cause the room to reverberate and amplify the sound. The elimination of hard surfaces and the existence of soft absorbent materials within the room will diminish the exterior noise influence. There is a commercial application called soft wall that consists of a padded wall application that incorporates a fabric covering over a heavy layer of soft compressible filler. This application is installed to eliminate noise and soften the interior noise within the space. Any type of installation similar to this on the interior walls, will reduce the sound transmission within the room.
9.) White noise works. The installation of small speakers to produce a general white noise effect will reduce the overall noise transmission from the exterior. Although it does not silence the room, the effect of the white noise will eliminate the negative effects of exterior noise into the room and make the interior of the room sound quieter.
The ability to soundproof a room, without extensive cost, is based upon a practical visual inspection of the situation and the perimeter of the room itself. Any noise that is transmitted into a room within a residential home is normally from open areas around the perimeter of the room. The perimeter includes the ceiling, the floor and all of the walls. Any openings such as windows and doors are especially critical to the elimination of noise and should be evaluated. The introduction of heavy drapes, heavy wall hangings and heavy carpet will all reduce the noise level within the room. I recommend research is done on websites that describe the sophisticated methods and applications that are applied to sound proof rooms and acoustically designed and engineered sound rooms. By researching this specialty, you will understand the accommodations and construction details that are required to professionally soundproof rooms. With this knowledge, you can creatively introduce your own methods of soundproofing, using the limited budget that you have as well as common household items that can be installed and used to reduce the sound transmission in the room.
Good luck, talk quietly, and inform everyone else in the home, to be QUIET!!